An industry bulletin released in May 2017 highlighted changes in the requirement to interconnect smoke alarms. The information applies to the following residential dwellings as classified under the Building Code of Australia (BCA):
- A Class 1a building (e.g. house, townhouse, villa etc);
- A Class 1b building (e.g. small guest house, boarding house – less than 12 residents. Can also be four or more single dwellings, such as chalets, located on one allotment for short term holiday accommodation);
- A sole-occupancy unit in a Class 2 or 3 building; (e.g. apartment, flat or unit); and
- A Class 4 part of a building (e.g. a caretaker’s residence).
Dwellings where a building permit application was made on or after the 1st May 2015 must have hard wired smoke alarms that are interconnected. Any future building work, such as additions and alterations that require additional smoke alarms, must also be interconnected.
How do you test if your smoke alarms are interconnected? Generally for most smoke alarms, the simplest way to check if they are interconnected or if the interconnection is working correctly, is to press and hold the “test” button on the first smoke alarm for as long as it takes for other interconnected smoke alarms to receive the interconnect signal and start to sound. Depending on the make and model of the smoke alarms, the indicator light on the first alarm will start flashing and all the smoke alarms should sound within about five seconds of the first alarm sounding. Test all the other smoke alarms similarly. You may need assistance from someone else to confirm the other smoke alarms in the dwelling are also sounding.
Building with a permit before the 1st of May will only require interconnecting smoke alarms when at least two or more are supplied. Interconnection is required for the newly installed smoke alarms but is generally not required with existing smoke alarms. However, if a premises doesn’t have hardwired smoke alarms, it may be necessary to remove existing smoke alarms and install two new smoke alarms that will need to be interconnected.
Confused? Please give ComSpark a call if you are unsure of your obligations under these new codes.